Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One toke over the line sweet Jesus

One toke over the line... Kris Helphinstine decided to just jump over the line. You know the line I'm talking about. The line that separates religion from our secular society.  The line that says fundies cannot teach creationism or poison the minds of our youth with religious ideology while in a public school. High on fundamentalism, "science teacher" Kris Helphinstine launched right into his students with a full load of fundie propaganda. He paid for it with his job.

During his eight days as a part-time high school biology teacher, Kris Helphinstine included Biblical references in material he provided to students and gave a PowerPoint presentation that made links between evolution, Nazi Germany and Planned Parenthood.

This kind of behavior is deliberately deceitful. Would Jesus have lied his way into a school science class? I don't think so.

13 comments:

beepbeepitsme said...

What a weird freakin' bunch they are.

Carolyn Ann said...

It's sad that with all their power, individuals within the fundamentalist movement still feel a need to lie and deceive to garner "converts".

The man deserved to be fired. Not just for crossing the line, but for being stupid and arrogant enough to think he could do it with impunity.

Of course, he's probably being lauded as a martyr...

Carolyn Ann

Anonymous said...

It's why I favor pragmatists over ideologues any day. Most ideologues are f**king nuts/idiots.

beepbeepitsme said...

They should be allowed to be deluded on their own time.

But the scenario presented is like employing a schizophrenia patient to teach medicine.

"I heard a voice tell me to stop taking the pills prescribed by satan .... and then old aunt maud's face appeared to me on my dog's butt and told me that the knee bone isn't really connected to the thigh bone, that it was all a liberal lie!"

And these people want to rule us and our governments. I say an emphatic "NO."

Tani said...

A claim and an assumption were made on March 20, 2007 when Mr. Helphinstine of Sisters High School was fired. The school board fired the well-liked biology teacher because of an accusation made about his teaching of evolution.
Mr. Helphinstine was “deviating from accepted curriculum by presenting materials supporting creationism to his biology class” and that is why he has been fired as of Monday night. Is this an accurate accounting of his actions? Aren’t we all supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?
Myself and a few other students were brought to tears when reading the article about his firing. We couldn’t believe that one malicious lie could end a young man’s career.
"The test was 90-plus percent intelligent design material," Rahm said.
I don’t know what test Rahm’s daughter took, but the test the rest of us had taken was about vocabulary and their meanings. But that is just what devastates me most. If the school board was to go to the extreme of firing Mr. Helphinstine, shouldn’t they properly investigate, such as looking at the test material given?
Plus, is it truly fair for there to be a requirement to teach one THEORY, but not acceptable to inform about another?

Mojoey said...

Tani - my guess is that you are a liar. Your give away is the fundie inspired bit about teaching a THEORY. While evolution is in fact the highest order of scientific truth, ID is not even science. I reject your assertion that ID should be taught side-by-side with science. It is religious theology told as a lie under the guise of science.

I have no sympathy for young Mr. Helphinstine. He violated his duty of care as a teaching professional by deviating from established science curriculum. He should not be allowed to teach in a public school again.

Innocent until proven guilty is a criminal concept. If you commit a crime you are assumed to be innocent until the state proves you guilty. That protection does not extend to at will employment. If you violated the rules, the administration can fire you. Helphinstine knowingly violated the rules - it was a very unchristian and dishonorable thing to do.

Tani - it does not matter if you think what he did was right. As a child, you don't count yet. When an adult enters a contract to provide a service and the reneges on his commitment, well... that leaves little for the adults to do but terminate his employment.

Helphinstine made his own choice in this. He now gets to live with it. I am sure there are plenty of Christians schools who will offer him a job. Of course they might consider what he did to be dishonorable. I would.

EMAL said...

mojoey,
It is interesting to note that the standard biology curriculum, as considered by the Sisters school board, was the textbook. I don't know of any teacher who doesn't introduce supplemental material. In this case, several parents did not like the source of the material. I have looked at the supplemental material, and it is scientifically accurate. None of it contained biblical references (as the AP reported). In fact, several Sisters school district employees (superintendent, school board members) have said that Helphinstine never broke the law (which would mean he never referenced the Bible in class, nor taught creationism). It seems that what he did is present scientific information that challenged a scientific theory (which scientists do all the time...that is part of the nature if a theory. It needs to be "refined by fire" so to speak. If it can't hold water, it needs to be adjusted to be made more water tight.)

Mojoey said...

emal - Helphinstine was "teaching the controversy". It is a well know strategy for introducing Intelligent Design into the teaching of evolution. It is dishonest and wrong. he is supposed to teach evolution, not what he believes is wrong with evolution. This is a big difference that fundamentalist cannot seem to grasp.

EMAL said...

mojoey- When you say wrong, exactly what do you mean? It is within Oregon State law to teach accurate scientific information that challenges a scientific theory. I guess if the law says that he can't teach ID, yet he did, then he was wrong and broke the law. However, it was stated several times by Sisters school district employees and a representative of the Oregon Dept. of Ed. that he did not break the law. It would be dishonest if he presented inaccurate information (lied), but that was not the case, either. The articles (that I read) that Helphinstine presented discussed the cabilities and limitations of natural selection, artificial selection, and mutation. I would suggest that it would be dishonest if he knowingly withheld information that challenged that theory, or any scientific theory that was taught in his class. It seems the only scientifically and intellectually way to be honest is to present all the evidence and information associated with a theory so students know that it is not "truth" they are being taught, but an earnest attempt to interpret data concerning change from a viewpoint exempt from supernatural intervention. If students are only taught what is correct about a scientific theory, it then may masquerade as truth. The biological theory of evolution ought not to be considered a "truth", as truth is without change-- the theory of biological evolution has changed innumerable times as more evidence is acquired that requires an alteration of the theory, such as the idea of punctuated equilibrium v.gradualism (brought on, in part, by the fossils from the "Cambrian Explosion"). This is part of the nature of a scientific theory-- adapting as evidence demands.

It seems as though some of us (American public) have made the theory of biological evolution into something more than it is. In other words, science, in large part, is the art of questioning. If scientists don't question what they see (or are taught) then it would seem to negate the resulting scientific progress. Should the theory of biological evolution exempt from scientific questioning? What would happen if no one questioned Darwinism? Would the theory of evolution have advanced?

The point of science (scientific inquiry) is to make observations, develop a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, gather data, and draw a conclusion (and test it again). What if conclusions formed from scientifically acquired data challenges the theory of biological evolution? Should it be rejected? Shouldn't evolutionary theorists evaluate, run more tests, and adjust their theory, if needed? Isn't that how scientific theories maintain their validity, by standing up to, or changing because of, new evidence brought to light?

Also, I have seen and read through part of the textbook that was used in the class. Even the textbook "teaches the controversy" in that it introduces, at the end of Ch.14, various beliefs about origin, including creationism. Organic evolution was taught in the text, in depth, as the origin of life. So even the text taught "the controversy" to some degree.

Mojoey said...

EMAL – Halphinstine is attaching the theory of evolution by presenting ID’s Teach the controversy wedge methodology. It is unethical. He should teach the theory of evolution, not his religious based pseudo scientific theories. You as what is wrong. He is teaching religion under the guise of science and claiming to be doing nothing more than showing the problems with evolution. The thing is, there is no problem with the theory of evolution. It represents the highest order of scientific truth available to us. Teaching the ID controversy is simply a ham-fisted attack on the unassailable. What halphinstine did was teach well outside the mainstream. His views are the official position of a fringe religious movement. His views are not science, they are fiction.

EMAL said...

Mojoey, you said:
The thing is, there is no problem with the theory of evolution. It represents the highest order of scientific truth available to us.

Are you suggesting that the laws of gravitational force, gravitational attraction, etc., are on equal footing with the theory of biological evolution? Why are there differing ideas as to how birds evolved? Or how man evolved? Or how any creature, for that matter, evolved? There is broad disagreements among evolutionary theorists as to how evolution has taken place. Have you studied any scientific information that challenges the theory of biological evolution? Truth...doesn't change. The theory of evolution has changed since its inception. Can you explain how that is truth? Is truth determined by a PhD? If it is, then there isn't truth, because PhD's disagree on many, many, many topics.
Perhaps you can explain how natural selection increases the amount of biological/genetic information in a population? That was something that Helphinstine introduced to his class. Or maybe you can explain/give an example of how a mutation increase the amount of viable, biological (genetic) information in an organism? I have studied it, and I'm still at a loss. These are not religious ideas. These are scientific ideas...and as far as I can tell, they are accurate. What do you mean they are "outside the mainstresm." Could this be because the theory of biological evolution, despite its numerous inconsistencies and flaws, is not challenged by the unthinking mainstresm? I suggest you investigate a little bit. You will undoubtedly be surprised by what you find. You may have to examine data interpretations (which depend on worldview) from people who have different presuppositions than you. But, I am sure you are open-minded enough to examine the positives and negatives associated with the theory of biological evolution. I know I have. In fact, I have studied this topic quite a bit. It is quite fascinating, really!

Oh, and unethical...really?! Is it unethical to present evidence that challenges a scientific theory? Of course, if it is fiction, it would be. But then, can you explain why it is fiction, or is that how we should categorize things we don't know/understand? In that case, I think computer languages are fiction. C'mon...I think you're better than that. Please tell me why Helphinstine's material is fiction.

EMAL said...

Mojoey,
One other thing. I went to the same university as Helphinstine, played on the same football team, and am very close to him. I have seen his test. He also explained that he writes his tests using the book. Yes, the textbook. So the comment about 90% ID by Mr. Rahm, in light of that, is quite amusing. Perhaps Mr. Rahm should petition to get a different text in the classroom!

Mojoey said...

"Are you suggesting that the laws of gravitational force, gravitational attraction, etc., are on equal footing with the theory of biological evolution?" - Yes - that is what I am asserting. Evolution is on the same level as gravity, germ theory. It is the highest level of scientific truth. It is the theory that fits the facts. There is no other theory.

People will continue to find facts that refine the theory, that is part of the scientific process. However, just like gravity, evolution is the explanation. Your efforts to interject a religious argument into a scientific discussion are obscene.

and look - ID is simply religion. OK? I don't care what you want to say about the need to challenge the theory evolution. Your efforts are wasted as long as you do it using religion - even if you mask religion in the language of science.

But the thing I want you to understand is that you and Helphinstine are the worst sort of liars. The kinds that "means well", but lies in the name of their faith. it disgusts me. unethical does not even describe the level of dishonesty involved here. Helphinstine's material? He's a fundie stooge - teaching material from the discover institute or some such. It's all crap.

One of my best friends is a pastor. He teaches his children the theory of evolution as a fact. He knows that the story of creation as told in the Billie is a myth, just as any rational person does. It is meant to guide a people, not establish scientific fact. Please stop wasting your lives and the lives of "Other Peoples Kids" with this nonsense.